Great Falls Then and Now: Lockmoor Farm

by Ashley Hopko October 7, 2019 at 2:15 pm 0

A former landfill used by the CIA and the Russian embassy near Great Falls is looking to push past its complicated history and become protected agricultural land.

The current owners of Lockmoor farm (802 Utterback Store Road) went before the Fairfax County Planning Commission on Thursday (Oct. 2) to request that the county label the farm as an agricultural district — ultimately giving the owners a tax break as long as they do not develop the land. They plan to add goats, sheep, bees and possibly a vineyard to the property.

The landfill was in use from 1970 until 1989 and served as a place to dump old tree stumps, earning it the nickname “Stump Dump,” as well as a dumping ground for waste from the CIA and certain foreign embassies, according to a Fairfax County report.

Both the CIA and the Russian embassy used to dump garbage there.

“The Russians arrived every few months, paying the dump fee in cash or bottles of vodka,” according to the Washington Post. “A landfill employee would then call the FBI, whose agents would soon arrive to paw through the discards, usually restaurant receipts and parking tickets but once a stripped-down, brand-new Russian car.”

The almost 69 acres of land was also once a zoo with giraffes, zebras, kangaroos, gazelles, buffalos and other non-carnivorous creatures, according to Fairfax planners. The previous owner also wanted to bring lions and bears to the property, but Fairfax County wouldn’t allow it, Peter Murphy, the chairman of the Planning Commission, said. 

Evidence of the zoo can still be seen from underground enclosures at the base of the hill on the property.

Despite previous uses, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality determined that the land is fit for agricultural use because the soil and water meet safety and health requirements. VDEQ stopped monitoring the area in 2016 and now requests that the current owners maintain the landfill cap, which sits on the top of the hill. 

Partners John Nguyen and Hanna Chakarji bought the land two years ago in pursuit of their lifelong dream of farm ownership, Chakarji told the Planning Commission. 

“When the opportunity presented itself to purchase this property, we jumped, we grabbed it and have no intention of developing it,” Chakarji said. “We want to keep it in its present state, which is beautiful.”

The land is now divided into five parcels. Onlookers can spot the growing Tysons skyline in the background of the property, as the farm sits on one of the highest points in Fairfax County.

Currently, the men own several cows and ducks, 20 chickens and 49 goats. They sell the goats to local restaurants in D.C. and produce more than 1,000 pounds of tomatoes, which they donate to local churches, according to county documents.

Chakarji said their top priority is to integrate the sheep and bees, saying they understand that a vineyard and winery would take time.

“The winery is an afterthought, I’m sure it will take a lot of zoning,” he said, adding that his top priority is to preserve the farmland for his family. 

After an extensive discussion about goats, the Planning Commission recommended approval of the agricultural district proposal, which now heads to the Board of Supervisors next week.

“This was probably the most interesting agriculture and foresting districting we’ve had in a long time,” Murphy said.  

Images via Fairfax County

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